“Blogging the Institutes” is my on-going attempt to paraphrase John Calvin’s work, the Institutes of the Christian Religion. You can find out more about the series in the Introduction. For all the posts in this series, check out the Master List.
God’s Providence Over All Things
We must believe that the providence of God is opposed to fate and “good luck.” Many people believe that things happen by chance or luck. It’s almost as if the doctrine of God’s providence has been entirely obscured. If someone gets robbed or attacked by a rabid animal; if someone is crushed by a falling tree; if someone gets lost in the woods but then rescued; if someone gets stuck in a terrible storm on the sea but still arrives safely at his or her destination–people typically attribute all of these occurrences, whether good or bad, to chance.
Those who are Christians, however, will farther to the cause of these things. They know that all the hairs on their are numbered (Matthew 10:30). Therefore, they know that God governs all things by his secret plan. For example, inanimate objects possess its own particular properties, yet they all exert their force only as far as directed by the immediate hand of GOd. They are merely instruments into which God constantly infuses energy as he sees its. He uses them for any purpose at his pleasure. Take the sun, for example. No created objects is more wonderful or glorious. Besides illuminating the whole world, the sun invigorates all the animals by its heart and fertilizes the earth by its rays, warming the seeds in the ground so that they burst forth in growth! The lowly seed rises into a stalk then bursts forth as a flower, and from flower to fruit, which continues to ripen until maturity. In a similar manner, the trees and vines bud, put forth their leaves, then their blossoms and then finally, their fruit, because of the sun.
The Lord was pleased that the light should exist and that the earth should be replenished by all kinds of herbs and fruit so that he might claim the entire glory of these things as his own. No believer will make the sun either the necessary or ultimate cause of those things which existed before the creation of the sun. It is only the instrument which God uses, because he pleases to do so. He could lay it aside if he wanted to and just act on things directly. For example, God made the sun stay in its course (Joshua 10:13), and made its shadow recede ten degrees (2 Kings 20:11). These miracles demonstrate that the sun does not rise and set by blind instinct of nature, but is actually governed by God. It rises and set consistently to remind us regularly of his fatherly care for us. The changing of the seasons seems so natural to us: springs turns to summer into autumn into winter and back into spring. Yet within this consistency, every single year, month, and day is different, testifying to the fact that God regulates them.